53

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bit murky regarding the Slytherin students and their role in the final Battle of Hogwarts. We know the following:

  • Professor McGonagall advises Professor Slughorn that she expects the Slytherins in the Great Hall following Snape's departure. She warns Slughorn that it is time for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties, and that if the Slytherins resist the attempt to fight Voldemort, they will duel to the death. (Deathly Hallows - Pages 599-600 US Hardcover)
  • Slytherin Pansy Parkinson attempts to have Harry turned over to Voldemort when Voldemort threatens to attack Hogwarts. McGonagall sends all of Slytherin House from the Great Hall. (Deathly Hallows - Page 610 US Hardcover)
  • Voldemort advises Lucius Malfoy that all the Slytherins have joined Voldemort's side. (Deathly Hallows - Page 641 US Hardcover)

  • Phineas Nigellus, following the Battle of Hogwarts and Voldemort's death, says to Harry when Harry visits the Headmaster's Office, "And let it be known that Slytherin House played its part! Let our contribution not be forgotten!" (Deathly Hallows - Page 747 US Hardcover)

What role did the Slytherins ultimately play in the Battle of Hogwarts? Did they resist Voldemort, assist him, or play both sides of the fence?

  • "Whose side are you on?" "Why, I've always been on my side." – EvilSnack Oct 20 '18 at 12:56
45

The Slytherins came back and fought against Voldemort in the final battle, with Horace Slughorn leading the charge!

JN: And how much is it that being sorted into Slytherin is, you know, sorted into good guys and bad guys here?

JKR: Well, they’re not all bad, that would- I know I’ve said this before, (JN: Yeah, I remember.) and I think I said it to Emerson [Spartz - Mugglenet.com], they are not all bad, and, well, far from it. As we know, at the end, they may have (laughs) a slightly more highly developed sense of self-preservation then other people because…

SU: Yeah, right.

JN: Yeah.

JKR: A part of the final battle that made me smile was Slughorn galloping back with Slytherins, (SU: Yes!) (JN: laughs) but they’d gone off to get reinforcements first, you know what I’m saying? But yes, they came back, they came back to fight, so I mean- but I’m sure that many people would say “Well, that’s common sense, isn’t it? Isn’t that smart, to get out, get more people and come back with them?”

Pottercast # 131 -- The Leaky Cauldron -- 01.02.08

In this context, JKR's explanation leads me to conclude that Phineas Nigellus was referring to Slytherin House as a whole when he made his comment about "Slytherin having played its part."

  • 1
    I'm sorry I'm not that fluent in english, I don't really understand fully the quote: where did they Slytherin come back from? – Kalissar Sep 5 '13 at 22:44
  • 14
    Well, they came back to the fight at the precise moment the whole thing hang in balance, which they tipped against the Death Eaters. Like JKR says: Common sense; they ARE Slytherins after all, they keep their options open UNTIL they know the winning side, join it, help it, and come out the better for it. Being opportunistic and cunning is their "thing". And Jo is right, it IS the smart thing to do, to strategize first, gather troups and then fight, unlike those Gryffindors, who run headfirst into a wall and THINK they're brave because of it... – BMWurm Aug 8 '14 at 8:41
  • 1
    Slytherincess, Is this Really True? – The Witch King of Angmar May 19 '17 at 18:12
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    This is really interesting, I must say, I didn't actually remember this from the books. Is there anywhere in the book where this is spelt out or implied, apart from Phineas Nigellus's ambiguous interjection? – Au101 May 20 '17 at 1:28
  • 1
    This isn't supported anywhere in the text. In the part of the book to which Rowling is referring, "...Harry saw Charlie Weasley overtaking Horace Slughorn, who was still wearing his emerald pajamas. They seemed to have returned at the head of what looked like the families and friends of every Hogwarts student who had remained to fight..." None of the Slytherins remained to fight. In fact, Voldemort explicitly says that the rest of the house had joined him when he's interrogating Lucius about the whereabouts of his son. The above may have been what JKR intended, but it's not what she wrote. – Anthony Pirtle Dec 25 '17 at 0:02
31

Most of Slytherin fought alongside Voldemort. Slughorn fought on the Hogwarts side. Draco Malfoy, after ambushing Harry in the room of requirement, seems not to really have fought; it seems his parents were more or less with Voldemort but didn't actually fight. I think we all know about Snape. I don't believe we get any more info about the rest, so I'd assume they fled or fought alongside Voldemort.

Phineas was talking about Snape.

  • 1
    I've been contemplating your comment about Phineas meaning Snape. Hmm. Interesting! On one hand, it does make sense. On the other, J.K. Rowling had explained that the portraits aren't completely sentient, like ghosts are. Portraits retain characteristics of their subject, and may parrot familiar phrases or topics, but how far does that go? On yet another hand, Phineas Nigellus seems to be sentient, as he runs errands for Dumbledore and travels between his portraits at Hogwarts and No. 12 Grimmauld Place. I'm going to keep thinking on it, but very interesting observation! :) – Slytherincess Nov 30 '11 at 18:37
  • I mulled this over and decided that I think you're right about Phineas meaning Snape when he references Slytherin having played its part. I hadn't thought that Phineas was speaking so specifically, but if he meant other than Snape, I think he would have said "the Slytherins" rather than just "Slytherin." Thanks for the new insight! :) – Slytherincess Dec 6 '11 at 14:37
  • No problem at all, that's what we're here for :) – Kevin Dec 6 '11 at 15:11
  • 4
    I think he meant Snape and Slughorn, who fought in the castle and the grounds alongside the rest of the school. – Janoma Feb 19 '12 at 18:24
  • Then why Phineas only praise snape if the reinforcements were slytherin – The Witch King of Angmar May 20 '17 at 12:39
1

JKR in 2008, when asked if "being sorted into Slytherin is, you know, [like being] sorted into good guys and bad guys":

"Well, they’re not all bad. I know I’ve said this before ... they are not all bad, and, well, far from it. As we know, at the end, they may have [laughs] a slightly more highly developed sense of self-preservation than other people, because a part of the final battle that made me smile was Slughorn galloping back with Slytherins, but they’d gone off to get reinforcements first, you know what I’m saying? But yes, they came back, they came back to fight, so I mean - but I’m sure that many people would say “Well, that’s common sense, isn’t it? Isn’t that smart, to get out, get more people and come back with them?”

It's a pity she's not this explicit in canon, but it seems pretty unequivocal: "They left, then "they came back, they came back to fight" alongside Slughorn.

  • 1
    Could you provide a link to the source of this quote? – amflare Sep 21 '17 at 19:03
-2

I believe that Slytherin was waiting it out till the right moment. They did in fact fight for Hogwarts in the movie; I do not know about the book. I know the movie for Deathly Hallows 2 because I own and watched like a thousand times and Draco was with the rest of what was left of the students and teachers when Neville confronted Voldemort he went to Voldemort because like he said to dumbledore in half blood prince that if he did not stay with or do what voldemort said then voldemort would kill him and his family and in the Neville/Voldemort confrontation he went with his parents and escaped the other slytherins I do not know about

  • It's probably not a great idea to answer a question you are unsure about -- I see a lot of "I don't knows" in there. I am interested in the books, not the movies. I also own the movie and have seen it eleventy-billion times. At no time is any Slytherin, except for Slughorn, seen fighting for Hogwarts and I include Draco in this comment. He was a much more sober form of himself at the end, but when Voldemort called Draco over to the Death Eaters' side, Draco paused, but he ultimately went to Voldemort. It's a bit different in the books, but I'll leave you to read them to find out why/how. :) – Slytherincess Oct 3 '14 at 23:00
-6

The Slytherin house was confined to their house during the battle so they couldn't participate either way. Any Slytherin in the conflict had already defected from the school.

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